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Review: Michael Kelly is taking bets in comedy-drama 'All Square'

Review: Michael Kelly is taking bets in comedy-drama 'All Square'
Jesse Ray Sheps, left, and Michael Kelly in the movie "All Square." (Vertical Entertainment)

Michael Kelly is one of those character actors whose face you recognize even if you don’t know his name. A three-time Emmy nominee for “House of Cards,” Kelly gets a well-earned leading man turn in the amiable indie comedy-drama “All Square” playing a surly, but likable bookie in a small Maryland town.

John “Zibs” Zbikowski is a former minor league baseball player whose career came to an end when tragedy forced him to return home and take over his father’s bookmaking business. Funny thing about this town: Every adult seems to have gone to high school together, yet no one has seen John since, even though he appears to have been back for at least 20 years.

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John revives a friendship with an old high school classmate (Pamela Adlon) that results in him helping out her Little Leaguer son, Brian (Jesse Ray Sheps). More big brother to the kid than paternal figure, John hits on the “brilliant” idea of taking bets on the kids’ games, initially pumping Brian for scouting reports to set the line. Not surprisingly, things go south quickly, adults behave like children and lessons are learned.

Written by Timothy Brady and directed John Hyams, “All Square” mirrors some of its protagonists’ qualities. It’s the type of movie you might want to have a beer with but you’re not really sure if you like. A good supporting cast — including Isiah Whitlock Jr., Harris Yulin, Tom Everett Scott and Josh Lucas as a hindrance to John’s plans — gives Kelly much to play off, but the story is too rote to get worked up about any of the conflicts.

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‘All Square’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes

Playing: AMC Rolling Hills, Torrance; also on VOD

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